As a child, he went through the sort of hard times most of us only see in movies. His father abandoned him and his mother to play basketball abroad, and his mother was killed by a friend in an argument between them at work.
A life-altering affront followed by unimaginable tragedy, Big Perk had to live with his grandparents in Beaumont, Texas, in poverty compounded by his rapid growth as a teenager that left his pants unstylish “highwaters” several inches above his ankles.
While the loss of his mother shaped and continues to shape his life, it isn’t part of his past, according to the 2008 Boston champion. “It’s not something to get over — it’s a loss I carry with me to this day,” he related in “The Education of Kendrick Perkins.”
“Before she was killed, it was just the two of us. She wouldn’t go anywhere without me.”
After struggling to make ends meet with his grandparents, Perk wanted to give back via his basketball skills’ ability to bring in an income far beyond what he grew up with in terms of means.
Making nearly a million in his first year with the Celtics — having elected to skip college in part to get right to the pros and start making money — Perkins was pulling in close to double that by the end of his rookie deal three years later.
“A lot of lettuce in 2006 for a not-yet-22-year-old kid from Beaumont, Texas,” he offered in his book, which he used to take care of his grandparents.
Still, even with enough success as to buy himself a Bentley with the bonus he earned from the Celtics’ 2008 title run, he still felt an empty space left by the absence of his mother.
Not long before that, he’d broken down while out with his wife Vanity, aching to be able to have shared what he’d built in life with his departed mother. “Decades of living with the tragedy of her death came pouring out of me as Vanity sat beside me, holding me, keeping me steady,” he explained.
“My mother’s presence in my soul, even in her absence, is a North Star,” Perkins added.
The memoir is available for pre-order from St. Martin’s Press and is slated to be released in hardcover and Kindle editions on Feb. 23.
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